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Articles of Confederation and the Constitution. Chapter 9. Articles of Confederation (US Governing document 1781-1789). Fear of centralized authority Structure Unicameral Congress, chosen by state legislatures each state one vote. Limitations. The Confederation.

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Articles of confederation us governing document 1781 1789
Articles of Confederation (US Governing document 1781-1789)

  • Fear of centralized authority

  • Structure

    • Unicameral Congress, chosen by state legislatures each state one vote.

    • Limitations

The confederation
The Confederation

  • John Dickinson and the “Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union”

  • Ratification process

    • All 13 had to agree

    • Stalled over western land claims

    • Approved 3-1-1781 (Note war was fought for 5 years with no document of government, under the direction of the Continental Congress!)

Financing the war
Financing the War

  • Borrowed abroad, printed paper money ( “Continentals” - generally accepted as worthless “not worth a Continental”)

  • Newburgh conspiracy - threatened revolt by Army if taxation authority not granted by states, nipped in bud by Washington

  • Brits banned imports from America to Caribbean islands unless in British hulls, America in depression by 1784

The west
The West

  • Millions of acres north of the Ohio River (the “Old Northwest”)

    • coveted by speculators, settlers (Indians had other ideas)

  • Ordinance of 1785

    • procedures for survey and sale of new lands in Old Northwest

    • established township as basic unit, subdivided into sections (640 acres per section)

    • one section reserved for schools

Northwest ordinance of 1787
Northwest Ordinance of 1787

  • Statehood procedures for new territories

  • Initial settlement - Congress appoints territorial Governor and Judges

    • When 5000 adult males, draft temp. constitution, elect legislature

    • When 60,000 total pop. Draft state constitution, approved by Congress, admitted as state

  • Forbade slavery in these regions (while territories)

  • Collectively, these two laws are the only lasting beneficial acts of the Articles of Confederation, but little immediate effect because Indians were determined to keep settlers out

Shays rebellion
Shays’ Rebellion

  • Mass government decides to pay off all war debts in 3 years (totally unreasonable)

  • 1786 - Daniel Shays leads rebellion against Massachusetts government

Importance of shays rebellion
Importance of Shays’ Rebellion

  • Showed weaknesses of government under Articles

  • Gave weight to arguments for a stronger Federal system

  • Fear of “mobocracy”

  • Nationalists used Shays to argue the need for stronger Central Government

  • Fueled growing dissatisfaction with trade arguments between states and currency issues

  • Came just after meeting called by Washington and others at Annapolis, MD to discuss interstate commerce and other issues

    • Called for a convention at Philadelphia in 1787

Constitutional convention philadelphia 1787
Constitutional Convention – Philadelphia 1787

  • All but Rhode Island sent delegates

  • Immediately realized Articles of Confederation could not be fixed, and due to requirement for unanimity could probably not even be amended

    • Closed meetings to public

    • Kept no official record

    • Most delegates “Nationalists”

    • Two basic issues

Virginia plan
Virginia Plan

  • James Madison called for establishment of National Govt. instead of confederation of sovereign states

    • Federal Gov’t to have sovereign powers over states

    • unrestricted rights to legislate, tax, use force against states if necessary

    • Bicameral legislature, representation in both houses fixed by population of each state

    • Lower house elected, upper house members chosen by state legislatures nominees, selected by voters

New jersey plan
New Jersey Plan

  • Single chamber Congress

  • Each state had equal vote (like the Articles)

  • Also made federal Gov’t supreme law of the land, states not sovereign

Divisive issues
Divisive Issues

  • Representation in Congress

    • Small states favored equal number of reps

    • Large states favored having more clout due to more people

    • Compromise (The “Great Compromise” )

  • Slaves

    • Slave states wanted slaves counted as persons for deciding representation (Some Southern states were already almost 40% slave)

    • Northern states didn’t want South to be able to count for representation persons who had no political or legal rights (but did understand southerners claims that slaves were property)

    • Compromise: “The Three-Fifths Compromise”

  • Commerce

    • Congress would have authority “to regulate commerce between the several states”

    • Congress would never be able to place tariffs (taxes) on exports (in other words, tax American agricultural or industrial products sold over seas) but would be able to place tariffs on imports

Checks and balances
Checks and Balances

  • Balance of power was big issue

    • States’ rights vs. federal government

  • State legislatures select electors who would choose a president

  • President has power to make treaties and nominate judges and ambassadors

    • Senate had to give consent

    • President could also veto a law, but Congress could override with 2/3 vote

  • Each branch could delay or stop an action by another branch to ensure that no one branch would be too powerful

Ratifying the constitution
Ratifying the Constitution

  • Federalists supported Constitution and believed strong central government was necessary

    • Popular in cities and with the wealthy

  • Antifederalists opposed it

  • Federalist Papers were written anonymously (by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay) and published in a New York newspaper to persuade people to support Constitution

  • Bill of Rights (first 10 amendments) was sought by Antifederalists who wanted to see basic rights added to protect individual liberties and was written after Constitution ratified